Showing posts with label guns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guns. Show all posts

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Recommendation: The Queen of Dauphine Street - Thea de Salle: Pet Tigers and Pansexuality

In THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET, filthy rich socialite Maddy invites stripper-turned-construction-worker Darren to stay on her cruise ship for protection after his abusive ex makes an attempt to kill him.

What intrigued me: I am obsessed with the book this is a companion novel to, THE KING OF BOURBON STREET.

Eccentricism and PTSD

Maddy is the most eccentric character I have ever read about. She has a pet tiger, a gigantic cruise ship, is openly pansexual, and has a room full of penis art. Having met her as Sol's ex-wife in THE KING OF BOURBON STREET, I was expecting a lot of kink and a lot of weirdness from her, and boy, I got it.

Surprisingly, THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET is a lot tamer than the first book in this series. Despite Maddy being vocal about her sex life and being a dom (though for Darren, she becomes the sub!), this book doesn't capitalize on the sex and the kink. There are very few sex scenes and this is very slow burn, a lot of time passes for Maddy and Darren to get acquainted and be comfortable with physical contact. 

Here's the thing: I actually am really happy that De Salle took this approach. Both Maddy and Darren have PTSD. It makes sense for THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET to have these two take their time, especially because this book goes to such dark places, exploring both protagonists' PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks, and their stories in detail. De Salle again manages to have me glued to the pages, totally obsessed with watching her characters' relationship evolve and learning more about their past. And because this needs saying: none of the mental illnesses are cured when Darren and Maddy fall in love. This is not a love-cures-all narrative. 

Maddy and Darren develop their relationship at a slow pace that feels right and that will actually force you to binge this one. You'll have to keep on reading if you want to get to the smutty parts, and trust me, once they come, they are as kinky as you'd expect them to be.

Dad Jokes and All the Feels

Darren is honestly such a surprise. I'm completely #TeamSol and forever will be, but Darren found his way into my heart silently, he snuck up on me with his terrible dad jokes (there are so many...) and his Texan charm. He's a major dork and I dearly grew fond of him. Even if you were a little skeptical in the beginning (like I was!) because he's this straighter-than-straight hunk of a guy (no shade, just isn't for me!). I was surprised that De Salle made me like a guy like that, by putting her own spin on the trope. I love Darren precisely because he doesn't take himself seriously and isn't a Grade A superman without flaws. I actually found myself liking him more and more the more time he spends with Maddy, which just speaks for De Salle's flawless ability to develop relationships that read organically and realistically.

All NOLA Nights books are so fantastically well-written and you'll grow so attached to the characters, all side characters really, and you'll need to read all other companion novels if you want more content featuring your favorites! Almost all characters from the previous companion novel make an appearance here and I suspect it'll be the same in the next one. I clung to the pages every time Sol and Rain appeared, the protagonists from THE KING OF BOURBON STREET, and I am sure any further appearances Maddy and Darren make in this series will have me gently sobbing, hoping there will be some more books starring them. Ah. I just love this series. If you want intersectional, a little kinky romance that has marginalized people in both main and side roles, this is a must-read.




Rating:

★★★★★

  




Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE QUEEN OF DAUPHINE STREET mixes light BDSM with a really really nuanced portayal of a gentle romance betweeen two characters with PTSD. You don't have to read any of the other books to try out this one.

More romances about characters with mental illnesses, please. More slow burn. More Thea de Salle, please.

Trigger warnings: suicide, guns, shooting, PTSD, stalking, harassment, BDSM, panic attacks, anxiety, attempted murder



Additional Info

Published: May 15th 2017
Pages: 236
Publisher: Pocket Star
Genre: Adult / Romance
ISBN: 9781501156090

Synopsis:
"When one of the world’s wildest socialites is paired with a handsome Texan, neither has any idea that their lives are about to change forever in this sexy, sultry romance in the NOLA Night series from New York Times bestselling author Thea de Salle.

Madeline Roussoux has it all: money, a dozen houses, a private jet, a cruise ship, even a tiger. Everyone knows her name. Her every move is watched, absorbed, adored, and abhorred by the public. She’s a dazzling spectacle on the society scene—a beautiful, flamboyant poster child for American privilege and Hollywood celebrity.

And she’s broken.

All the wealth in the world can’t make up for Maddy’s losses. Her father’s suicide and her mother’s ensuing breakdown left her orphaned as a teenager. She survived, but barely. From stints in rehab to a string of failed marriages, her dazzling smile hides deep scars. Finally, losing Sol DuMont, the one person she ever truly loved, has her wondering what is the point of being surrounded by people when you’re perpetually alone?

Enter Darren Sanders. He’s a beautiful Texas boy with a big heart and a bigger smile; the type of man women go crazy for. Literally. When Darren’s ex stalks him and then makes an attempt on his life, circumstances find him off to New Orleans with none other than Maddy Roussoux. He thought he knew everything there was to know about her, but there’s more to the woman whose image graces the covers of magazines worldwide, and Darren finds himself drawn into a world of excess he never imagined possible. "
(Source: Goodreads)

What's your favorite Adult Romance?



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Saturday, March 11, 2017

[Review] Letters to the Lost - Brigid Kemmerer: Grief and Photography

In LETTERS TO THE LOST, Declan finds the letter Juliet writes to her late mom at the cemetery and they become unlikely pen pals.

What intrigued me: I've been in the mood for more mixed format books.

Super sad and depressing

LETTERS TO THE LOST is a very heartbreaking book. Kemmerer showcases her advanced skills through giving this book a so, so, so, so depressingly sad tone. This wasn't really my thing - I don't like books that deal majorly with grief, but that doesn't mean LETTERS TO THE LOST is a bad book and you shouldn't pick it up. Kemmerer is an extremely talented writer, this story flows beautifully, if very slowly paced, and the prose is breathtaking. The dual POV is executed wonderfully with the protagonists Declan and Juliet having two very distinct voices.

The back story, however? I struggled, I gotta admit. LETTERS TO THE LOST is too over the top for me, full of cliches, domestic abuse, melodrama, and I just don't like these types of books. Both Declan and Juliet do nothing but indulge in their sadness and it's not varied enough to make for a compelling narrative for me. I couldn't swoon over their relationship or find any joy in following their stories because there's just nothing but dealing with grief in this. Again, very, very subjective.

Wildly Inappropriate Refugee Comparisons

LETTERS TO THE LOST starts every chapter with a letter from either Declan or Juliet. Very frequently Juliet describes pictures her photographer mom took to him, usually of suffering or starving children in the Middle East and comparing herself to them, saying she understands their pain because her mom died. And I just - no. It's even worse considering that these are pretty much the only relevant characters of color in the story. There's a black family that's mentioned in passing, but the only non-white representation in this comes in the form of starving refugee children. This is so wildly inappropriate and offensive that I'm honestly speechless. You'd have her describe a picture of a little brown girl that's on the brink of starvation and has a vulture circling around her, and Juliet will say, yes, I relate to this. Oh my god.

I... I don't even. It's not like these are integral to the plot, this is absolutely redundant and very much cheapens this story. I usually would've given this book three stars, despite it not being my thing at all, it's well-written and will entertain and delight a lot of people - but this specific aspect made me sick to my stomach. I've informed the publisher and will be adding the missing star and revising my review if this is changed in the final version.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LETTERS TO THE LOST is a very You've Got Mail kind of story mixed with grief and sadness. If you're looking for a love story like I was, you might not enjoy this. The extremely inappropriate comparisons to refugee children left a bitter taste in my mouth that severely impacted my reading experience as well.

Trigger warning: blood, (domestic) violence, abuse, guns, war



Additional Info

Published: April 6th 2017
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781408883525

Synopsis:
"Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope. 

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past. 

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet. "
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite mixed format book?

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Saturday, October 15, 2016

[Review] Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton: Middle East, Guns, and Djinn

In REBEL OF THE SANDS, Amani wants to escape her abusive family by leaving town and ends up having to team up with a fugitive.

What intrigued me: Mostly recommendations from friends.

Very Unique and Hard to Get Into

REBEL OF THE SANDS has a beautifully unique setting that's somewhere between a Middle Eastern and a classic Western town. Surprisingly, the mashup isn't as strange as you'd expect. There's shooting, djinns, other malevolent creatures and magic. It's certainly something that I have never seen before in YA and therefore definitely gets the full score if we're talking originality. Though I do think that REBEL OF THE SANDS plays into stereotypes too much and does very little to help you familiarize yourself with the world. 

I love that Hamilton drew inspiration from Middle Eastern culture, but I really would've wished for her to make it easier for the average reader to truly understand the culture. Similar to the criticism I had for THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, which also features a Persian-inspired world, I would've been over the moon happy if there was a glossary included. So many words of Arab origin that you'd never understand or recognize unless you're googling what it means, little nods to clothing and culture and food, that you'd have no way of understanding. 

I think especially when you're not including a Western setting, considering that this is a book first published in the US in English, you have to consider that that will frustrate readers. It did frustrate me and take away from the narration because I was constantly looking up words and absolutely couldn't get truly immersed into the world.

Gimmicky and Lacking in Execution

Ultimately it's a mixture of the lackluster storytelling that just didn't get to the point, and the confusing world building that really didn't make REBEL OF THE SANDS match my taste. Hamilton merrily uses lots of info-dumps at the most inconvenient times that made me want to skim, skip, or even quit altogether. I never quite grew invested in the story, all about it felt gimmicky to me and kind of unbelievable. 

REBEL OF THE SANDS tries to be a western with paranormal elements, but also a classic high fantasy novel and the genre-mashup just doesn't work. I found it lengthy and boring and the writing too bulky and awkward to pull all of it off. At the core there is just no story to tell. REBEL OF THE SANDS purely relies on the world building (which is pretty much summed up by "there are monsters in the desert"), and that just doesn't work. While the setting is interesting, I think this lacks severely in execution and storytelling and I wish there was more to it all aside from the unique setting. 


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?


REBEL OF THE SANDS tries to bring a new perspective and breath of fresh air into the genre, but doesn't quite deliver. If you generally enjoy Westerns, you still might enjoy this. But don't expect this to be the first Western to get you into the genre.

Important: It has come to my attention that Hamilton's portrayal of Middle Eastern culture is a little offensive. Please read the review by my blogger friend Aimal, she's Pakistani Muslim and makes some valid points that you should take into consideration.

EDIT: This is actually more racist than I thought, so I'm lowering my rating. I don't feel comfortable speaking on any of the issues because I'm not Muslim or Middle Eastern and I wouldn't know what I'm talking about.


Additional Info

Published: August 22nd 106
Pages: 352
Publisher: cbt
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9783570164365

Synopsis:
"She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from. 

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him... or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is." (Source: Goodreads)


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